Editor’s Note: This article was published in the early days (June 5, 2014) of CEC when we had few readers. It it is certainly worth a second reading.
I encourage readers to watch The Great Debate – Xenophobia: Why Do We Fear Others? This debate, which took place at Arizona State University, 31 March 2012, was about the human instinct to form in-groups and out-groups particularly along ethnic lines. The members in this panel (primatologist Frans de Waal, economist Jeffrey Sachs, psychologist Steven Neuberg, neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe, and physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson) all recognized in varying ways the powerful drive within all living beings, including bacteria, to organize themselves into in-groups and out-groups; and yet the tenor and objective of the conference, as evident from the title, was to view this as a problem that needs to be transcended.
Only Europeans Must Cease To Be Xenophobic
Why a problem to be transcended? Because this evolutionary selected instinct is characterized by xenophobia, fear of those groups who are different, and preference for one’s ethnic group. But why is this a problem if it is a behavioral disposition selected by nature for its survival advantages? Because this is a panel of Western scientists committed to the idea that diversity is a strength and that Western societies must be open to mass immigration. Why? Because these scientists are members of a European-created culture that has come to believe that European ethnocentrism, and only this ethnocentrism, is harmful to humanity. Therefore, Europeans, and only Europeans, must work towards universal forms of community and human solidarity without outside-ness and without fear of the other.
Now, one could dismiss the views of this panel as one more instance of crazed leftist academics insisting that race is a social construct. But this is not a conference by academics belonging to programs in gender studies and critical race theory. What is astonishing about this conference is that it consists of intelligent scientists who have produced research showing that organisms as diverse as amoebas, elephants, and humans survive inside groups in which there is competition between individuals, but also widespread in-group cooperation in competition with outside groups. In-group cooperation and preference is an evolutionary strategy consistent with the survival, enhancement, and protection of one’s own herd, family, or people. Yet, these scientists are nevertheless advocating in this conference the idea that in-group preference is an immoral form of behavior that must be eradicated as “xenophobic”.
Of these speakers, Jeffrey Sachs, leading international economic adviser and director of the Earth Institute, is the most articulate in his explicit admission that we must follow the ideology of diversity regardless of what the scientific evidence says. In the time period he speaks (between the 14 minute and 32 minute mark), he openly states that:
the evidence is overwhelming that…diverse societies are far more complicated than homogeneous societies…the happiest countries…in the world [he mentions Nordic countries] are all ethnically homogeneous societies.
He tells the audience that the more diverse a society is the lower the levels of trust, cohesion and social peace; diverse societies do a poorer job at supplying public goods, education, and welfare due to lack of cohesion and ethnic solidarity. At no point does Sachs ponder why Western societies should be promoting mass immigration and multiculturalism. To the contrary, he frames the whole debate as a “challenge” the West must meet and overcome, xenophobia, if they are to be successful in creating progressive and caring race mixed societies.
Confounding the challenge of world cooperation between nations with ethnic cooperation within Western countries, Sachs goes on to offer a number of reasons how we can fancy out of our minds the “overwhelming evidence” he cites against diversity. All the reasons he offers as to why we can still pretend that diversity is a blessing, and thus strive to overcome the challenge of ethnocentrism, are inadequate. I will focus on the claim that Switzerland is an example of a “very diverse” yet successful country. This is a historical fabrication. The “diversity” of Switzerland consists of two-thirds German speakers alongside one-quarter Latins (basically French and Italian). None of these three ethnic groups are immigrants but founding peoples who have inhabited Switzerland since ancient times and all of them are Christian and ethnically European.
Only Recently European Nations Became Immigrant Places
How can a man of Sachs’s intellectual stature go for an argument that is devoid of merit? Regrettably he is voicing a view that is now widespread, and must be refuted. Recently I had an email exchange with a professor about this very issue. He claimed that since ancient times European nations have been ethnically heterogeneous; using England as a case in point, he wrote that “waves of immigration (Celtic, Roman, Saxon, Jute, Viking, Norman, Flemish, Huguenot, to name just the most prominent, had migrated into England.” In glowing and rather juvenile terms, as if he were describing an upcoming multicultural event at a university, he added that:
tremendous diversity of language and cultural traditions were characteristic of British history…Spain is similarly heterogeneous, comprising a federation of at least a dozen separate peoples, many of whom are now considering separation. Furthermore all of these countries have had rich and complex histories of immigration: Catalans into southern France and Italy in the early modern period, for example, or Burgundians into medieval Spain, not to mention a plethora of Jewish communities and the earlier waves of so-called ‘Germanic’ invasions.
I replied that migration in Europe prior to 20th century took place over many centuries: Anglo-Saxons (c. 5th century AD), Vikings (8th century AD), the Normans (11th century AD), and then minor movements in subsequent centuries from France. In the 19th century, immigration by people outside Europe was very small in scale. Moreover, the much talked about “immigration” by Normans, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and Romans were actually invasions, and they merely added minor new layers of ethnic “diversity” to the prehistoric ethnic pool. This is what Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes argues in his book Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland: “The family trees of the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are overwhelmingly indigenous to the British Isles since far back into prehistoric times.”
One cannot compare the episodic movements of genetically related people over many centuries with the current program of mass immigration from all over the world in the last few decades. What is transpiring in England today started in 1948 when the British Nationality Act affirmed the right of Commonwealth citizens (including those of newly independent Commonwealth countries like India) to settle in the United Kingdom. It was from this point on that outside immigration started to increase steadily, from 3,000 per year in 1953 to 46,800 in 1956 and to 136,400 in 1961.
Some restrictions were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s, including the British Nationality Act, which required migrants to have a “substantial connection with the United Kingdom” by birth or ancestry to a UK national. Nevertheless, in the 1970s, averages of 72,000 immigrants were settling in the UK every year from the Commonwealth; and in the 1980s and early 1990s around 54,000 per year were arriving, rising to around 97,000 by 1999. About half the population increase in Britain between the 1991 and 2001 censuses was due to foreign-born immigration. By 2012, White British had dropped from 87.5% of the population in 2001 to 80.5%. White Britons in London, in 2012, accounted for less than half (45%) of its population.
There is a fundamental difference between past movements of intra-European peoples and the current ideology of immigrant multiculturalism enforced through incessant media campaigns and accompanied by the transformation of the entire curriculum from pre-kinder onward away from any historic pride in one’s national heritage and endless pageants to the “enrichment” of diversity.
Similarly, the ethnic “tapestry” of Spain was formed over the course of centuries and was never a program imposed by liberal elites celebrating the culture of the colonizers while maligning their own heritage. As of 2010, there were over 6 million foreign-born residents in Spain, corresponding to 14% of the total population. However, in 1981, the foreign born population in Spain was only 0.52%; and, as late as 2001, it was 3.33%. Big difference.
White students today are being instructed to view their nations as naturally immigrant to make them feel that European peoples have no historical identity but have always been living in fluid, ever-changing, miscellaneous landscapes where immigrants come and go in a felicitous manner constructing multiple identities under the guidance of progressive individuals.
Ethnocentrism is Rational; Sachs Et Al. Are Irrational
What makes this entire debate about xenophobia so disturbing is the acceptance by intelligent scientists of a huge transformation in their own homelands despite the warnings coming out of their own research. Another reason Sachs offers for the benefits of diversity is the rather common one that the more contact we have with other ethnic groups, the more we develop trust, forgetting his own previous observation that trust declines in diverse societies, but calling attention instead to some research about the amicable ways in which individuals from different ethnic groups, jet set businessmen and academics, interact with different ethnic individuals inside hotels, restaurants, and conferences. Their politeness is surely a model for those crass working class whites who don’t seem too happy with the ethnic transformation of their neighborhoods.
I could go on challenging the other reasons offered by Sachs, and the way the other panelists sum up their research about in-groups and out-groups, and then walk over it to emphasize instead the “plasticity” of human nature, how humans can be made to embrace every group, become non-ethnocentric, and thereby overcome human conflict forever.
The word “self-delusion” came often to my mind as I heard these speakers. Self-delusion is defined as the act or state of deceiving or deluding oneself. A common example, the dictionary tell us, “is a person who believes himself to be much smarter than he actually is.” But these scientists are smart. Perhaps the definition by Voltaire would apply: “The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.” But the self-delusion here is even worse since these scientists have found reasons (based on their life-long research) not to believe whatever it is they want us to believe, but they still believe what they are ideologically expected to believe. And they are doing this openly in front of a large audience without anyone pondering over this self-imposed contradiction.
So, who is irrational? Those who fear the mass colonization of their countries by out-groups, or these scientists? These panelists are not the only cases of irrational reactions by researchers facing findings that question the mandated program of diversity. A well-known one is Harvard professor Robert Putnam’s reaction to his own research discovery that ethnic diversity decreases trust and co-operation in communities. But his liberal convictions persuaded him to keep this research hidden for half a decade “until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity”. The proposals essentially came down to additional, more effective methods of indoctrination in favor of diversity. As he put it, “the central challenge for modern, diversifying societies is to create a new, broader sense of ‘we’“.
The central challenge of White societies facing increasing problems due to diversity is to amplify diversity and condemn (as “the other”) those who naturally prefer their own group. The goal is to reverse the order of nature: exclude those who refuse to join the universal “we” (as xenophobic outsiders) and include those who prefer out groups against their own people (as tolerant insiders).
Similarly, when research came out recently showing that by nine months infants are better at recognizing faces and emotional expressions of people within their own ethnic groups, the reaction of liberals, personified in the writings of the pop psychologists and Newsweek journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman, was to insist on more intensive diversity education; the decades-old emphasis on “mere school integration” and a “diverse environment” are not enough; parents must talk to their kindergarten white children in an “explicit way about ‘historical discrimination'” against blacks. Meanwhile, black children must be encouraged to “develop a racial identity from a young age“, since “some preparation for bias is beneficial” in their case. Only white children must be indoctrinated to develop a bias against their historical experiences and ethnic identity.
No wonder the last panelist at this conference, New York Times journalist Charles Blow, was the only one who spoke with confidence and consistency. Not being a scientist, he did not have to worry about any inconvenient facts that might contradict his reasoning, but was all too eager castigating the insecure White scientists, reminding them, and the White audience, how America still remains a racist nation. Everyone smiled sheepishly after this original thought by Mr. Blow, which anointed the conference’s goals: Whites need to overcome their in-group racism, celebrate the in-group pride of non-Whites, and create a universal “we” in their homelands.
The major mistake all the panelists made was assuming that loyalty to one’s ethnic group amounts to “fear, violence, and exclusion” of outsiders. Sachs speaks of our “two-sided human nature”, our virtuous cooperative nature and our “dark” xenophobic nature, forgetting that our cooperative nature is intrinsically connected to our in-group nature. What the science says about ethnocentrism is neither that in-groups needlessly seek to attack any out-group nor that in-groups have an inborn disposition to hate others. In-group members concentrate on the performance of altruism within the group rather than aggression towards outsiders unless the competing out-group comes to be seen as a threat. Conflict escalation between ethnic groups is lower when physical barriers exist between them.
Japan, Korea, and many other countries today have a high degree of homogeneity, including the Nordic countries Sachs mentions, but none of them are engaged in wars of exclusion and violence against other ethnic groups in other places. Why then is everyone presuming that if Western countries decide to end mass immigration they are thereby engaged in acts of exclusion and violence? The evidence is clearly pointing in the opposite direction: violence and rapes against out-groups have increased dramatically in those Nordic countries that decided to “enrich” themselves with diversity. Britain was a very peaceful country (devoid of hatred towards other groups) when it was overwhelmingly populated by native Brits in the 1960s.
These panelists are all wrong. Enoch Powell was right.